How to Handle Negative Reviews

Being a business owner AND professional people-pleaser at the same time?  Online review forums can make this pretty tricky.  Feeling confused as to how to navigate the Dos and Don’ts of negative online reviews?  Don’t fret!  As a business owner or entrepreneur or even an employee of a business, you will experience at least one negative review in the history of your business.

The worldwide web has even made it easier such that, at the click of a button, anyone can hurt the business you have worked extremely hard to build! What do you do in such situations? This article details five rules of thumb (Answer, Apologize, Assure, Alleviate, Ask) on how to best handle customer’s online complaints.

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1.  Answer the Complaint ASAP

More often than not, negative reviewers post their complaints during or almost immediately after their experience.  That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on what customers are saying about your business online. When it comes to online review websites such as Yelp, FourSquare, and Angie’s List, attention-to-detail is crucial.  

Customers are looking for immediate consolation from upper management. A consumer study conducted by Conversocial revealed that “88% of consumers are less likely to purchase from companies that leave complaints unattended.” 

Once you spot a negative complaint about your business online, you should take active steps to answer or address it immediately. If negative comments are ignored, it can intensify the situation by further angering the customer or even catching the attention of fellow reviewers.

2.  Apologize to the Customer

This one’s a no brainer.  Never pick a fight with an angry customer – you will lose!  Even if the customer appears not to be angry, do not pick up a fight. Instead, show the customer that you sincerely care about their experience and offer an apology for the negative incident.  Albeit, some reviewers tend to look for ANYTHING they deem wrong, still, you should err on the side of caution when deciding on whether you should appear defensive online.

A great approach is to validate the concerns of the customer, offer an apology and let them know that you are open to correcting the situation. Depending on the type of complaint, you may offer to replace an item, give them bonus points, or offer a free service. If it’s something you can’t exchange or correct, you may offer a refund or simply apologize. 

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3.  Assure them their Experience Greatly Matter to You

If possible, look into what exactly occurred that upset the customer.  Use this information to craft a customized response reassuring them their situation will be handled. 

According to Brian Greenberg, owner of TrueBlueLifeInsurance.com, five positive reviews on Yelp have been shown to boost your business by up to 10%, whereas one really bad negative review can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in business.  Consider remedying the situation by offering the customer a discount, complimentary item, or gift card.  

4.  Alleviate the Situation…Offline

At this point, try to continue to take care of the situation offline.  Work one-on-one with the customer either over the phone or invite them back for a corrective experience.  When it comes to negative reviews, keep discourse at a minimum, if possible. Most negative reviewers will come around if they notice the sincerity in the efforts you are putting into remedying the situation.

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5.  Ask to Have the Post Removed

Continue to accommodate the customer’s needs and, after the conflict has been deemed “solved,” politely ask them if they would consider removing their message.  At this point, the relationship with said customer should be greatly improved, and they will be more likely to agree to your request contingent that you have followed up with them professionally and met their needs. 

Overall, negative reviews does not mean you are not doing a great job running your business. It simply means there’s always a room for improvement. Once you resolve a negative review, you notify all staff/workers in your business, train or retrain them and most importantly, put proper procedures in place that will prevent or minimize the recurrence of such situations. Your goal should be to always satisfy your customers so they can always come back and bring their friends along with them!

Thank you for reading. Has your business experienced any type of negative review? How did you handle it? Leave a comment.

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